Jakarta. Have you ever canceled a motorcycle taxi order because your driver was a woman?
In a roomful of women drivers, those partnered with ride-hailing firms said they often encounter order cancelations simply because of their gender.
"It's not just the men who cancel on me, even women do it. When I asked why, they said they felt uncomfortable being driven by a woman," Ida, who works for Go-Jek, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.
Safety concerns also seem to be a consideration for some customers, in line with the common perception that women drivers are less adept.
Go-Jek's internal data showed that the cancelation rate for its women driver partners is 2.7 percent higher than for men, which according to Shinto Nugroho, the company's chief of public policy and government relations, highlights how some customers still doubt women's ability to drive safely.
"This perception can impact the earnings of our women driver partners. When in reality, they have adequate driving skills on par with men," Shinto said, adding that accidents among Go-Jek's women driver partners are actually lower because they tend to be more careful.
Shinto said the perception is unfair, adding that the company is working on ways to eliminate these doubts among users, one of which is through riding safety workshops.
Go-Jek organized the first such workshop at its headquarters in South Jakarta on Tuesday, in collaboration with women's empowerment startup Queenrides and the Ministry of Transportation.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said a study by the ministry showed that many Indonesians still lack awareness of road safety.
He expressed hope that by educating women drivers, it would also spread awareness of road safety, on simple things such as wearing crash helmets and maintaining the correct speed, among the broader public.
"I think what we are doing here today is part of an awareness campaign to let the public know that women have similar skills, if not better, than men drivers," Budi said during the opening of the workshop.
He added that companies such as Go-Jek and Queenrides must continue their efforts in this regard in the hope that the participants would spread the information to their respective communities.
"I believe women are more careful when driving, sometimes even more friendly and fragrant," the minister joked.
Rider SafetyQueenrides founder Iim Fahima Jachja said her startup company's focus stems from concern over increasing risks women drivers face in Indonesia.
"Over the past four years, there has been a significant increase in women drivers, making up almost 42 percent of the total. At the same time, accident risks have also increased. We see there is urgency in increasing awareness and knowledge on road safety among women, which is where we come in," Iim said.
Queenrides, which has attracted around 200,000 members since its launch in late 2016, has educated about 9,000 women on road safety through offline workshops,
Iim said most of these women have never taken proper driving lessons and tests, and as is common in the country, many pay corrupt officials to obtain driving licenses.
According to the World Health Organization's Global Status Report on Road Safety, Indonesia is among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest number of reported road casualties.
"We hope to continue expanding this effort. Right now, it's only going to be theory, but we will follow it up with technical aspects as well, to improve their practical skills," Iim said.
Shinto echoed the sentiment, touching on the importance of conducting this type of training regularly as part of Go-Jek's commitment to safety for both its partners and customers.
She added that the workshops are also part of an effort to increase customers' trust in Go-Jek women driver partners, which would increase their welfare.
Confidence Is KeyIn his speech, Minister Budi advised workshop participants, which included around 100 Go-Jek women driver partners, to be confident on the road.
"When you're confident, you can apply your driving skills and adjust your speed as needed," he said.
Go-Jek customer David told the Jakarta Globe that a driver's gender was not an issue for him and all that matters is whether they drive well. In his experience, drivers affiliated with the ride-hailing firm are usually skilled and therefore give him no reason for concern as a rider.
"Sometimes I'm actually impressed when the driver is a woman," David said.
Cindy, a Jakarta resident who frequently makes use of ride-hailing services to commute, said that while she welcomes being driven by women, she has also been in situations where she felt unsafe because her driver seemed unsure of herself or even afraid during the journey.
"But I would definitely want to see more female drivers at online-based ride-hailing firms as I think this would open more windows of opportunity for women," she said.